Introduction - CEDA Energy: keynote by the Hon. Josh Frydenberg

Sofitel Melbourne on Collins 
Melbourne, Australia

Craig D. Hardgrove

Chief Financial Officer, ExxonMobil Australia

~Check against delivery~

Thank you Melinda for that introduction. And thank you to CEDA for giving us the opportunity to sponsor this important address.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I will keep my remarks brief, because I’m sure that, like me, you are all keen to hear what Minister Frydenberg has to say about our energy future at this critical time.

Josh Frydenberg was elected to the Australian Parliament in 2010 as the Member for Kooyong. He is the seventh person since Federation to hold this seat.
I have to say that one of those former members for Kooyong played an important part in the history of my company. His name was Bob Menzies – later known as Sir Robert Menzies. 

In July last year, Josh was appointed the Minister for the Environment and Energy, having previously served as Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Assistant Treasurer and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

He has come into the Energy portfolio at a critical time for the nation’s commercial and industrial engine room – the eastern seaboard.

Many would say he has been given a hospital pass, to use that beautifully descriptive Australian saying.

For over half a century the east coast states have thrived on some of cheapest energy in the world with coal-fired power generation and the large natural gas fields we discovered in Bass Strait in the ‘60s – with assistance from that former Member for Kooyong.

As a result today there are multitudes of businesses – industrial and commercial – and thousands and thousands of jobs that rely on these energy supplies. Not to mention the millions of households.

Unfortunately, our huge gas fields are nearing the end of their lives just as many of the major coal-fired power stations are approaching their mechanical use-by dates.

Successfully navigating our way through the transition from these historic sources to new energy supplies is quite a challenge. It requires long-term vision, dexterity and great deal of new capital investments.

We have just completed step one with our Kipper Tuna Turrum Project, which at over $5.5 billion was the largest single investment ever into Australia’s domestic gas market. This investment helps us to maintain our gas supplies into the market from our Gippsland plants for another few years.

There are ample gas resources available on Australia’s east coast, most of which are onshore.

However, each field comes with its own unique challenges, and developing them will require technical excellence and further major capital investments.

Potential investors will have to be confident that the gas can be brought online at a competitive cost. That means competing with other developments as well as potential imports to the east coast via pipelines or LNG.

I can assure you that we have our best geoscience and engineering minds working hard to identify the next commercially viable prospects to develop to sustain production from our Gippsland facilities.

Right now our engineers are working on ways and means of developing a pocket of unswept gas at the western end of our Barracouta field – the first offshore field ever discovered in Australia.

I am very encouraged by our progress so far.

In the offshore Gippsland basin, we now only have about 5 percent of the east coast’s remaining proven and probable gas reserves.

We continue to apply our world-class technology and deep understanding of the basin to ensure we can use the extensive infrastructure we have in place to capture the full potential of these remaining resources.

For example, using the latest super computer processing capacity, our geoscientists reprocessed old 3D seismic data with new algorithms. After detailed analysis of the results they identified new prospective drilling targets and as a result we have acquired our first new Bass Strait exploration acreage in over 20 years.

Next year, we will spend around $100 million in a highly uncertain deep-water exploration drilling program in this acreage, in the hope of finding new gas for the market.

We hope there is more gas yet to be discovered in Bass Strait, because – as Minister Frydenberg has said on a number of occasions – gas is critical to our energy future.

Whether it is used as feedstock or heat energy for industry, or cooking and heating in our homes, or supporting the growing wind and solar in power generation – we will need new supplies of gas for generations to come.

Our capacity to complete for the capital investments needed to develop this gas will rely a great deal on ensuring we have the right policy settings.

So without further delay, I’ll hand over to the Minister.

Thank you.

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